Yesterday, much as he hated to leave me with a broken washer, my husband Dennis had to leave for another short business trip. When I saw that our calendar showed the evening free, I had visions of coasting dreamily along (albeit in our dirty clothes) until he got home. Surely, things will go more smoothly than the last time he left, when I had to deal with a plumbing emergency.
Things started out well, until after supper. Supper’s just not the same without Dad, anyway, and I suppose having leftovers was not the best thing to promote unity and harmony among the brethren. The big kids got into some dispute that left one crying and two cleaning up the kitchen for a week. It is at times like these that I am certain I am ruining my children for life, not because I force them to eat leftovers, but because there is nothing that upsets me more than when they are awful to each other, and unrepentant at that. You’d think that in light of our glimpse of eternity this week, things would be better for a nanosecond longer than usual, but, alas, here we find ourselves, once again. I remind myself conflict is good, so we can deal with what's going on in their hearts. Yes, that's it. Maybe I should make it two weeks…
Anyway, the tension in the house was not made better by Annie (6) singing opera in the bathtub (wondering why I couldn’t understand the ever-increasing volume of her resonating song-request to use some shaving cream), nor by Ruthie (3), who was following Neal (12) around, accusing him of decapitating her favorite Barbie. (Thith one’th my thpecial one, Neal! You wrecked it!”). No amount of cajoling could remind her that it was already broken, and Neal’s only fault was that he could not make it better when she brought it to him to fix.
It wasn’t long before I heard screaming from upstairs. Now, I am used to hearing screams. I tune most of them out: the “she’s not sharing” scream, or the “there’s a bug on my wall” screams. This one however, was a serious, “there’s blood” scream. I dropped the Barbie head and came running.
The collaborators in post-dinner strife had been banished to various parts of the house as far away from each other (and me) as possible. Libby’s (9) banishment included taking a shower upstairs. Prior to her shower, she had decided to take a load off (literally) and, by the time I got there, the toilet was just seconds from overflowing. Especially considering this was an upstairs bathroom, I was proud of her choosing a very good reason to scream.
I reached down, carefully avoiding the bowl, turned the water off to the tank, and surveyed the situation. Not good. Not good at all. Where is a man around when you need one to plunge fetid water from the commode?
Suddenly the tension was broken, as Libby ran to fetch the plunger. “I’ll get it, Mom! Mom, can I try, can I try? Mom, I know I can do this. I just want to help you, Mom. This looks like fun! I love doing this!”
God bless her, but her machine-gun style enthusiasm for such an enterprise was mowing me over almost as much as the odor coming from the bowl. “Do. Not. Touch. The. Plunger,” was all I managed to choke out, holding my nose and wishing for an OSHA-approved, nuclear-warhead-resistant body suit. Am I having an out-of-the-body experience, or can it be possible that I am trying out for a spot on Dirty Jobs?
It took several minutes of plunging to free the pipe of its obstruction, and by this time Libby and I were joined by the two little ones, squeaky clean from their baths, wanting to get in on the action. “Not this time, girls. This is a Mommy job.” Well, technically, it’s a Daddy job, but we’ll not go into that right now. I’m sure the airborne bacteria from the encounter was enough to warrant another bath, but at this point, it was close to nine o’clock and I was just glad they did not touch the plunger. At least not while I was looking.
By bedtime, everyone was in much better spirits, the plunger was out of children’s reach, and the angst of the supper hour was forgotten, mostly, and forgiven, completely. Only a small scuffle broke out about who gets to sleep in Mom’s bed while Dad’s gone. I drew names and wrote it down on the calendar this time so I can remember for next time.
Whew. I thought cleaning up Drano-water and bailing soap-water out of the washer might have been enough to show Dennis how much I love him – even when he’s gone - but this more than proves it, don’t you think?
And by the way, the washing machine repairman is coming again this afternoon (he’d better fix it THIS time!), which is good, since Ruthie (3) woke up to a wet bed again (is there a pattern here?). Did I mention I love my life??
So far this morning (besides the wet bed), the only mishap has been that the dog ate someone's toast off the table, and then ate an entire package of cheese, which I accidentally left out when I took the kids to school. Let's just pray that does not lead to another kind of plumbing emergency.
Come home soon, Honey!